When you open the cover of a spy novel, you have certain expectations. You expect a lot of double dealing and backstabbing. You expect action and adventure. You expect exotic locations that span the globe. You expect danger around every corner.
Left on Mission might add the word “graphic” before the word “novel”, but it meets the above expectations and more. This is a spy thriller with meat. A page turner that stands up with the best Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum have to offer but works on many different levels. It is frothy and deep at the same time.
A CIA operative by the name of Emma has gone rogue and stolen a laptop full of vital American secrets which she intends to sell to the Russian Mafia. A former agent by the name of Eric Westfall is called out of retirement to help bring her in. He and Emma had a relationship, and the CIA hopes that fact will allow him to get close enough to her to retrieve the laptop.
Of course, nothing is what it seems, either about the CIA’s motives, Emma’s reasons, or even the true nature of Emma and Eric’s prior relationship. The nature of the spy thriller dictates that they wouldn’t be. Left on Mission uses the conventions of the spy thriller to good effect. You are kept guessing, and the twists and turns are both realistic and unexpected.
On the surface, Left on Mission works as your typical espionage pot-boiler. You have your shadowy agents in shadowy lands doing shadowy deeds. But there is a subtext there about the nature of the spy business and the lengths the US will go to protect its citizens which mirror some of the major headlines of today.
This adds a deeper level to the piece, and it is presented in such a way as to be unobtrusive. If you are looking for a fun and mindless read, this subtext will not take away from that. But it is there so that people who want a little weight to their entertainment can take something away from the book.
Chip Mosher excels at creating vivid and well defined characters in a short amount of time. He creates a story that is complex enough to be interesting, yet simple enough to follow and be easy to understand. The twists and turns are well thought out and make sense in the context of the story.
Francesco Francavilla really impresses with his artwork. It sets the mood precisely and his style is evocative of masters such as Joe Kubert and Eduardo Barreto. He provides dead solid storytelling, which in this type of story is absolutely vital.
Left on Mission is a spy thriller that is both entertaining and engaging. If you like the genre, or just good comic books, you should pick this one up.